Thursday, July 7, 2016

Some Not So Final Thoughts . . . Again



Two years ago, I wrote this post. I wrote it two weeks after the death of my son, Wil. He would have been 30 years old. He and his wife, Maria, had been talking about having children. Just the day before his murder, he received what he called his dream job. And in one thoughtless act as he walked innocently down the street after stopping for noodles and after picking up one or two items for their new apartment, he was shot in the back by a then fifteen year old gang member.

Wil just happened to be walking down a street when a bullet meant for someone else took Wil’s life, his future . . . our son, and Emily’s and Hannah’s brother . . . away.

It didn’t have to happen. It never should have happened. Not to Wil and not to anyone else. Sadly, it did.

I decided to repost this entry. I don’t want or need pity or sympathy. My wife and kids don’t want or need pity or sympathy. That is not the reason for my reposting this entry.

You see, I truly believe . . . believe strongly and deeply . . . that each of us has a purpose. Each of us needs someone on the sidelines of our life to cheer us on when all we want to do is quit. Each of us needs someone in our lives who says, “You can do this!” “You’ve got this!” “Yes, I believe in you!”

It’s really the reason I began this blog several years ago. If it helps just one person, it’s a success. If it causes a smile or a nod of the head, it’s all good. And sometimes, it might bring a tear. I guess that’s good, too.

I call it “Simple Thoughts From A Complicated Mind, Sort Of” because they really are ‘simple thoughts’. And I really don’t have that ‘complicated of a mind’. Really. I think and I ponder, that’s all. Sometimes I share it, while at other times, I tuck it away.

What I like about this post was that it talks about three ideas that are near and dear to me. Three ideas that I believe in, and I hope to some degree, you do, too.  

So from me to you, from my heart to yours, and from my family to yours, I give you this once more . . .

July 28, 2014:

Last week, we laid to rest our son, Wil.  It was, and is, difficult.  As I reflect on it, I wanted to share with you Some Not So Final Thoughts.

When I read the newspaper or watch the TV news and when a story comes on about a gunshot victim or people dying in a plane crash, of course I’m saddened. No one likes to read or hear about death, especially to the young, certainly not children. However, there has not been the “personal” connection until my son, Wil, died in a homicide while taking a break and walking to a restaurant for noodles. Shouldn’t have happened to him, and it should not happen to others.  But now it is difficult to read the newspaper or watch the TV news because those stories are all the more real to me, to Kim, and to Hannah and Emily. Too real.

When it was my turn to speak at the service, I didn’t say all I wanted to say . . . all I needed to say. I did the best I could, and I think Wil was okay with that.  Yet . . .

I talked about his struggle learning the English language. For a new learner, it takes from seven to ten years to become fluent. Wil worked hard at it and there were some funny moments. In Wil’s ears, birds were “burps” and clouds were “ballooms.” Yes, I spelled it correctly, at least how Wil pronounced it. There was a cartoon that Wil liked and its theme song and lyric went: “looting and polluting, it’s up to you!” What Wil sang as he danced around the family room was: “oony ah balloony estass to you!” (I spelled that phonetically) But it wasn’t all on Wil.

One evening, I wanted to tell Wil that I was a little upset at him for not working hard on his homework. My Spanish was and is awful, and I said, “Yo soy un poco mojado” but when he looked at me in wonder, I ‘corrected’ myself and said, “Yo soy un poco morado.” He laughed at me and I looked up what I said and found out that I told him I was “wet and purple.”

Those of you who read my posts regularly know that I use three phrases most, if not all, of the time and I use each phrase deliberately.

The first is: “Something to think about . . .”

I believe what we read, what we hear, and what we see should be considered and thought about.  It should be reflected on. Obviously it is a choice whether one does so, but all of life has a lesson, some big, some small, and most can be applied to our lives. Reflection is important in the growing process. What did we learn? How does this apply? How might this change me? What can I do differently? What should I keep doing? What must I stop doing? All great questions.  Evening works best for my reflection, but so does morning. We have a gift in each Morning (a previous post)- a ‘do over’. How great is that? We’re not bound by the past. We’re not doomed to repeating it. We can grow from it, learn from it, and each Morning, we get to begin again.  But it all begins with “Something to think about . . .”

The second is: “Live Your Life . . .”

Your Life! Not someone else’s. Certainly not someone’s idea of what Your Life should be. It is yours to live! Wil didn’t necessarily do things the way I had wanted him to. Wil made his own way. Sometimes he struggled until he got it right. Sometimes he sought out my advice and went with it, but other times he sought it and didn’t use it. That’s okay. It worked for him, because it was Wil’s life, just like Your Life is yours! When you get in your car and drive to a destination, chances are there are several, if not many, ways to get there. Some might take you longer. Some might take only a short time. Yet, you arrive! You always do! Live Your Life . . .  I have your back on that!

The third is: “Make A Difference!”

One can move through life without feeling, without thinking, and one can merely exist. One can move through life and use others, trample on them to get to their goal, their prize, their result.  Or one can lift up, one can support, one can help along and encourage. And I believe in so doing, each of us is helped in perhaps greater measure. It makes the journey easier. The pain we sometimes have becomes, if not less, at least a little more bearable because it is shared. Our pain is, on some level, understood. Each day, each minute, we have a choice to make a positive impact on others. Judging by the comments shared with us at his service and on the In Memory of Wil Lewis page on Facebook and the comments shared with us at the visitation and the luncheon that followed the memorial service, Wil made a positive impact on many. And the beauty of it was that perhaps Wil was unaware he had done so. Wil just Lived His Life and in so doing, Made A Difference!

That’s all I really ask of you. Each of you. Each day, each moment. Just Live Your Life and Make A Difference! Not too much to ask, is it? 

In Apollo 13, there is a scene when the three astronauts are in their little capsule. They aren’t sure if they will survive the reentry into the atmosphere. They aren’t sure if they will make a safe and soft landing. Their hands are in the hands of some unknown folks thousands of miles away. I don’t know the historical accuracy of the scene, but the character played by Tom Hanks turns to his partners and says, “Gentlemen, it has been an honor and a privilege.”

Wil, it has been an honor and a privilege to be your dad.  It has been an honor and a privilege for me for you to be my son. A real honor and a real privilege. I regret that I wasn’t walking along the sidewalk with you July 12th. I regret that I didn’t have my arm around your shoulders and I regret that I didn’t tell you one more time how very proud I was . . . am . . . of you. I will live with that. But I will also live with the fact that you called us the day before, on July 11th to wish us, Kim and me, a happy anniversary. We laughed because you weren’t sure of the date and we laughed because you had a bit of trouble remembering dates. The laughter was good, is always good.

Yes, it has been an honor and a privilege, Wil. Always. You had a positive impact on many and you probably didn’t even know you had. A life well lived. Very well lived. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Celebrating . . . Life!



I sit here this early morning writing this post on the 4th of July. It is our Independence Day! There will be fireworks and music, patriotic movies, and barbecues. It’s a little odd for us, though, because Kim is in Wisconsin with her parents. Her dad had heart surgery and her mom is still healing from a painful break. Hannah is in Pitt with her boyfriend’s family. So on this day of celebration, it’s just Em and me. Last night we went to a movie, and today, she’s hanging out with a couple of friends.

At the end of this week, Em has her college orientation. It’s her first, Kim’s and my third. So far, each has been different.

Wil went to an art school in downtown Milwaukee. The orientation was maybe a half-day. Hannah went to a large university about two hours from home and we spent the whole day there. We dropped her off and she went one way and we went in a different direction and hooked up at the end. Em chose to attend a small school in a large city. Just as in Hannah’s case, Em will go one way and we’ll go the other and meet up at the end.

While Kim and I will join the ranks of you who are, or will be at some point in the future, empty nesters, I am choosing to look at this as a Celebration of Life!

Life moves forward, not backward. Certainly Em is moving forward with her life. Just as Hannah graduates in December and then enters grad school for her education certification and license, and just as Em begins that four year or so journey, Kim and I enter a new phase of our life. It’s a Celebration of Life!

And next week on July 11th, Kim and I have our anniversary. Twenty-four years together! A lot of adventures, a lot of very happy times, and some sad ones as well. Certainly worthy of a Celebration, especially for me, because Kim put up with me all these years. Heck, she deserves a medal!

And one day later on July 12th, we will remember our son, Wil. I wouldn’t call it a Celebration, really. It is too sad, too painful, and he was taken from us only two years ago. No, not a Celebration, but a remembrance. Not sure what we’ll do for it. But I’m sure there will be funny stories and some “I remember when . . .” Probably some tears, some in private and some together.   

We, you and I, Celebrate . . . Life in many different ways. Some of our Celebrations are personal like birthdays and anniversaries. We Celebrate success in our jobs, advancement in our careers. We participate in the Celebrations of the successes and achievements of those in our lives.

To me, Celebrations of Life are acknowledgements of what has taken place. It is recognizing our past- what we’ve achieved, what we’ve overcome. But Celebrations of Life are also a glance forward, a look ahead.

You see, Life continues to move forward. Life doesn’t stay put. Life doesn’t go backward. It is constant, ever changing, ever moving. Celebrate the moment you’re in. Take time to notice and take stock. Enjoy who and what is around you. But also, Celebrate and acknowledge your past and where you’ve been, where you’ve come from, but always, always, move forward, look ahead. Celebrate . . . Life! Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

Please feel free to connect with me at

Twitter at @jrlewisauthor



If you like to read thriller/mystery, check out:

Book One of the Lives Trilogy, Stolen Lives:
Two thirteen year old boys are abducted off a safe suburban street. Kelliher and his team of FBI agents have 24 hours to find them or they’ll end up like all the others- dead! They have no leads, no clues, and nothing to go on. And the possibility exists that one of his team members might be involved. http://tinyurl.com/Stolen-Lives-J-Lewis      

Book Two of the Lives Trilogy, Shattered Lives:
Six men escaped and are out for revenge. The boys, recently freed from captivity, are in danger and so are their families, but they don’t know it. The FBI has no clues, no leads, and nothing to go on and because of that, cannot protect them. http://tinyurl.com/Shattered-Lives-J-Lewis     

Book Three of the Lives Trilogy, Splintered Lives:
The FBI knows a 14 year old boy has a price on his head, but he and his family don’t. With no leads and with nothing to go on, the FBI gambles and sets up the boy and his family as bait in order to catch three dangerous and desperate men with absolutely nothing to lose.

The Lives Trilogy Prequel, Taking Lives:
FBI Agent Pete Kelliher and his partner search for the clues behind the bodies of six boys left in various and remote parts of the country. Even though they don’t know one another, the lives of FBI Kelliher, 11 year old Brett McGovern, and 11 year old George Tokay are separate pieces of a puzzle. The two boys become interwoven with the same thread that Pete Kelliher holds in his hand. The three of them are on a collision course and when that happens, their lives are in jeopardy as each search for a way out. http://tinyurl.com/Taking-Lives-J-Lewis   

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Gathering At The Feeder



I’ve always liked birds.

When I was single, I had a bird cage and had a male and a female finch. Eventually, they laid eggs and I had a little family on my hands. They would bounce and fly and flit around the cage. They were quite shy, so I couldn’t make any sudden moves or make a lot of noise, but we got along well.

Kim doesn’t like birds and doesn’t want me to have any in the house. With two dogs, I don’t think it would work very well, either.

A couple of years ago, I set up two bird feeders in the backyard. I placed them on either side of the yard, one next to a white flowering crape myrtle and the other next to a pink flowering crape myrtle. Between the two feeders are two small, young red maples, and between them, four knock out roses and a butterfly bush.

Build it, and they will come. They sure did!

At any time of day or early evening, we see any number of different colored finches and some canaries, the smallest of our visitors. The largest visitors we see are cardinals, blue jays, and mourning doves. Quite the variety, really.

We even had something much larger at some point during the night, probably a squirrel or raccoon because we found one of the feeders on the ground with the top open. Was kind of messy. I just picked it up, filled it, and placed it back on the stanchion.

The birds don’t seem to mind Bailey, our Golden Retriever, and she doesn’t seem to mind or notice them. They peaceably coexist. Stella, on the other hand, is a much different story. She shows up and they fly away and wait for her to come back into the house before they visit the feeders.

I either sit on the deck and watch them or watch them from a window in our family room. I find it peaceful and relaxing.

One of the things I notice is the level of cooperation amongst the birds. One day, one of the bigger birds, a blue jay, shook the feeder causing some of the seed to fall on the ground. He ate from the ground while the smaller birds ate from the feeder itself. At other times, the smaller birds will leave as the larger ones arrive and eat. Eventually they leave, and the smaller birds return.   

Everyone gets their fill and I keep them filled with seed.

Got me thinking . . .

I think people, all of us, can learn a lesson or two from birds.
Unlike birds who are unconcerned about the type of bird feeding next to it, humans seem overly concerned, especially now days. Yes, I understand current events. I do understand the worry about safety and well-being. I want my family safe when they travel to a different city or even go to a nightclub or a movie. So, yes, I get that.

But it seems to me that there is perhaps too much scrutiny over skin color, the type of dress and head covering. There are issues of who is or isn’t allowed to come to our country, even though we call ourselves, “The Land of the Free” and have a monument in a New York Harbor celebrating our immigrant heritage.

Perhaps I have a na├»ve, over-simplistic view of coexistence, a Pollyanna-ish view of how folks should get along, need to get along. So I understand if you want to give me a smile, a pat on the head and a sympathetic shake of the head. But wouldn’t it be nice if we could be similar in how we treat each other as birds treat each other? A level of cooperation? A peaceful coexistence? Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

Please feel free to connect with me at

Twitter at @jrlewisauthor



If you like to read thriller/mystery, check out:
Book One of the Lives Trilogy, Stolen Lives:
Two thirteen year old boys are abducted off a safe suburban street. Kelliher and his team of FBI agents have 24 hours to find them or they’ll end up like all the others- dead! They have no leads, no clues, and nothing to go on. And the possibility exists that one of his team members might be involved.

Book Two of the Lives Trilogy, Shattered Lives:
Six men escaped and are out for revenge. The boys, recently freed from captivity, are in danger and so are their families, but they don’t know it. The FBI has no clues, no leads, and nothing to go on and because of that, cannot protect them.

Book Three of the Lives Trilogy, Splintered Lives:
The FBI knows a 14 year old boy has a price on his head, but he and his family don’t. With no leads and with nothing to go on, the FBI gambles and sets up the boy and his family as bait in order to catch three dangerous and desperate men with absolutely nothing to lose.

The Lives Trilogy Prequel, Taking Lives:
FBI Agent Pete Kelliher and his partner search for the clues behind the bodies of six boys left in various and remote parts of the country. Even though they don’t know one another, the lives of FBI Kelliher, 11 year old Brett McGovern, and 11 year old George Tokay are separate pieces of a puzzle. The two boys become interwoven with the same thread that Pete Kelliher holds in his hand. The three of them are on a collision course and when that happens, their lives are in jeopardy as each search for a way out.
http://tinyurl.com/Taking-Lives-J-Lewis